Posts Tagged: ‘Ambergris Caye’

Belize 2017

February 27, 2017 Posted by Deb

Belize starts and ends with Yoli’s. It’s a cruiser bar in Placencia run by Reagan and Yoli, and it is laid back like no other bar we’ve been in. There is only one TV so it’s not a sports bar, and you can gamble on the playoffs and Super Bowl if you’re so inclined. Most don’t watch TV because of the human entertainment floating around and through the bar. A cruiser can run a tab under his or her first name and tabs can get as high as $40,000 US (it was eventually paid off), many walk behind the bar and grab their own drinks, and a few listen to the Lost Refers and buy their t-shirts (we have two). Within minutes of dropping our hook we walked up the dock to Yoli’s and the Lost Reefers were playing. Actually, it was their lead, John, alone that day because the rest of the group were up in Belize City. A great welcome home to Belize.

Yoli's and A Lonely Lost Reefer

Yoli’s and A Lonely Lost Reefer

Jerry Jeff Walker

We caught him at the Minnesota Zoo last year but Belize is home for him, and the two-week long Jerry Jeff Walker Camp Belize in San Pedro started shortly after we arrived. We had friends flying in for the first week featuring a number of concerts and a lot of impromptu music on the beach. We headed north with Flying Fish in the hopes of getting in on the music and seeing friends. We made it to Colson Caye and got a weather update. A potentially tough norther was coming and that part of Belize has little protection from the north or northwest. We spun for more sheltered turf and Flying Fish kept going because they had company coming through Belize City. We watched weather for a few days, but the friends from the U.S. flew home long before we arrived in San Pedro.

Jerry Jeff Walker at Fido's on Ambergris Caye

Jerry Jeff Walker at Fido’s on Ambergris Caye

Roberts Grove Marina

We settled in for a stretch of bad weather and kind of stayed. It’s nice here, there were plenty of boat projects, and we could squeeze in a bit of exercise. The resort is going downhill each year and we hear lots of rumors as to why. This year Habaneros was closed half of each week, the bathrooms had no paper, diesel was not available, they were down to only one working Hobiecat, and the gym was closed. We talked our way into the gym each day and Deb wrote a long letter to management about the other stuff. The next morning we had diesel and from that time on we’ve been treated like royalty. We believe, and rumors support, that there was some kind of a labor/management issues and her letter shook things loose (as in the workers had not been getting paid).

Our Own Private Restaurant With Live Band Just Outside the Cockpit

Our Own Private Restaurant With Live Band — Just Outside the Cockpit

Morning Workout Beach at Robert's Grove

Morning Workout Beach at Robert’s Grove

Floating Gym

Floating Gym

Robert's Grove Sunrise

Robert’s Grove Sunrise

Bike Rise Up the Peninsula to Na'ai Resort

Bike Ride Up the Peninsula to Na’ai Resort

Goodbye Trip with Flying Fish

We spent time with Claudia and Claudius on Flying Fish in their decompression phase after company left. We did the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival and several restaurants with them. Both boats sailed north to Caye Caulker, and was that a ride! We had up to 31 knots just as we were crossing the English Channel and it was pretty exposed. As a result, we did the length of Belize in two days with hours to spare.

Reggae Band at the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival

Reggae Band at the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival

Placencia Sidewalk

Placencia Sidewalk

Finally Got a Photo of Neytiri Under Sail

Finally Got a Photo of Neytiri Under Sail

 

Hurricane Earl

San Pedro and Caye Caulker recovered well from the hurricane. There was a lot of new construction. The Lazy Lizard at the Split survived so the young backpackers still had a place to hang out. The TMM dock was destroyed and rebuilt but TMM is long gone. Sad.

Lazy Lizard on Cay Caulker Post Hurricane

Lazy Lizard Backpackers on Cay Caulker Post Hurricane

New, Shorter Version of the TMM Dock

New, Shorter Version of the TMM Dock

Hurricane Earl on San Pedro

Hurricane Earl on San Pedro

Water Caye, Garbutt, Pelican, Hatchet and Home

We made a point of checking out the new resort at Garbutt and the new bar built by Reagan (Yoli’s) at Hatchet Caye on our trip back south. At Garbutt we ran into Rendezvous (Peter), Wanderlust, and Wahoo (just in back from the East Caribbean) and were invited to one evening of their floating party north. We don’t know how they can keep up that pace because we were partied out after only one night with them (and low on rum).

Floating City Goes by From Water Cay

Floating City Goes by Water Cay

Garbutt Caye Sunrise

Garbutt Caye Sunrise

Hatchet Cay Pet Pelican

Hatchet Cay Pet Pelican

Neytiri & Flying Fish Together at Robert's Grove

Neytiri & Flying Fish Together at Robert’s Grove

Last Voyage of Flying Fish

Last Voyage of Flying Fish

Heading North to Mexico and Key West

Heading North to Mexico and Key West

Belize 2016 and Home Turf

May 8, 2016 Posted by Deb

We waited out a calm day in Cozumel and we were off on Thursday, April 28, for San Pedro, Belize, and a rendezvous with the former Mokacat owner, Dale and his significant other, Kathryn. We have never taken on the Gulf Stream head on before. Every crossing to date we have positioned to cross the strong part of the current as close to right angles as we can. This trip was 250 to 300 miles, straight into the teeth of the current. Many sailors have posted waypoints for a strategy that involves hugging the coast but we found tremendous variation and eddies. Our first encounter took us for 8.5 knots down to 1.8 to 3.3 knots and we were jammed against mainland Mexico. We tried getting even closer but finally just went out to where we could count on a steadier 3-knot “in-your-face” current; and our speed over the ground went to 5 to 5.5, even though we were smoking. We were planning on being out two nights but by the time we got to the Chinchoro Banks, the current moved offshore, the winds went to 23 knots, and we picked up to 9.5 to 11 knots and made it through the Eastern Channel, Ships Bogue, and Porto Stuck to Cay Caulker all before dark on day two. Not bad. The boat did great but the passengers were knocked around like rag dolls when we got out of the lee of the outer atolls.SunsetBelizeSailing

San Pedro

We always liked San Pedro, Belize. Even though it is an open roadstead, salt spray everywhere, buried in golf carts, and full of tourists, it was our base for chartering out of TMM for years and we have fond memories of scrambling all over town to provision a charter cat. We always ran out of booze on those charters, sometimes by the halfway mark. This time we were there to clear into the country, say hi and goodbye to Simon at TMM (TMM is closing shop in Belize in June, 2016), and to pick up Dale and Kathryn.

Company was a bit of a concern since we needed weather windows to cooperate to get us there (we beat their plane by seven hours) and we were on what amounted to a 1,400-mile delivery run from Ft Lauderdale to Guatemala, all in about a month, and, as such, the boat wasn’t fully ready to party.

BlowingPalmTreesNeytiri was covered in salt and the humidity was unusually high; we were exhausted; we never un-pickled the watermaker, so water for four people was a concern; and we had plans to cover the whole country in seven days. Everything worked out very well, despite a large hole opening up in the dink on day one and threatening to leave us w/o a way to get to shore. We had 30 gallons of water to spare at the end of the week, thanks to the extreme conservation habits of Dale and Kathryn. With company, the fishing poles came out, and we were eating Cobia and Jack in no time. Dale was an impressive fisherman and fish cleaner.FishDaleChuckSunsetDinghyRepairLazyLizardDaleKathrynHelmChuckDaleAtMastLostReefersYokisChuck

The four of us had to scratch our heads to go from what we wanted to do and see in Belize to what we had time for given that we didn’t really want to power sail all day. We eventually decided on San Pedro, Cay Caulker, Water Cay, a power run to Pelican Cay and the Hideaway Resort and Restaurant, Hatchet Cay (2 days), and Placencia.

The Storm

We were hit by two nights of storms at Hatchet Cay. Neytiri was on a mooring but 40 kts out of the South and West really got our attention. The lightning show was one of the worst we’ve been in since the Mona Passage in 1994. The moorings held, the storm passed, and we had two days of cooler, drier weather.HatchetCayeBeach HatchetCayeDinner

Robert’s Grove Resort and Marina

We returned to Robert’s Grove Resort for a few days of laundry, relaxing, and water. It was surprising to see the change in two years. The house construction was complete but the marina was quite empty, the restaurants were on reduced hours, the deli and Sweet Mama’s were closed, the bathrooms were toilet paper challenged, the WIFI was very sporadic, the marina showers have never been built, the dive shop hadn’t had a charter in a week, and the French owner was history having been bought out by the Boris Mansfield company.RobertsGroveDock

A Lap Around Belize

January 6, 2014 Posted by Deb

After a two-day layover at Cucumber Beach Marina (and water park of all things), the birthday crowd flew in for Chuck’s 66th. Sister Barb, her partner Michael, and Michael’s sister Lynne came from St. Louis, Missouri, and McLean, Virginia. They had a one evening crash course in Head and Shower 101, and we cast off the following morning for points north.

Blue Water Grill: Welcome to San Pedro

Blue Water Grill: Welcome to San Pedro

Brother Sister Tour: Chuck & Barb

Brother Sister Tour: Chuck & Barb

Brother Sister Tour: Michael & Lynne

Brother Sister Tour: Michael & Lynne

Provisioning in San Pedro

Provisioning in San Pedro

Street Girls in San Pedro

Gator Day in San Pedro: Not Quite the Same as the ones in Marion County, Iowa

Gator Day in San Pedro? Not Quite the Same as in Marion County, Iowa

Going to be Eating Healthy on This Trip!

Going to be Eating Healthy on This Trip!

Off to Caye Caulker to Wait Out the Norther

We were moving into the teeth of a small norther but it could have been worse. Worse happened three islands later as the strongest norther of the year pinned us south of Caye Caulker for 2 days.

First Time for Foul Weather Gear on Neytiri

First Time for Foul Weather Gear on Neytiri

Closing Out 2013 with a Cast Iron Canoe Delegation

January 2, 2014 Posted by Deb

Mark and Phyllis drew the short straw and flew down from the U.S. so we would not be alone for Christmas. That’s a dedicated canoeing club. We picked San Pedro as a pick up point and they texted me (I don’t read them) that they were coming by ferry rather than the puddle jumper. Having not read their text, we got a bit nervous as 5:00 p.m. rolled around and there were rumors of cancelled flights out of the north country due to a storm. I dinked in and checked flight manifests for Tropic and Maya Air and found zip. I then strolled the beach to the ferry dock and heard Phyllis call my name. I guess you don’t need a smartphone if you’re lucky.

We did the Caye Caulker, St. Georges, Bluefield Range, Tobacco Caye, Rendezvous Caye, and Cucumber Beach Marina loop with them and had everything from great to lousy weather. We ran into Zia and Caper each on two different occasions (both neighbors in the Rio Dulce). Both boats were entertaining holiday guests as well.

Rasta Boat Caye Caulker

Rasta Boat Caye Caulker

Mark's Old Favorite Bar on Caye Caulker from Years Past with Nazdrovie

Mark’s Old Favorite Bar on Caye Caulker from Years Past with Nazdrovie

Tobacco Caye: Proper Storage for All Jet Skiis

Tobacco Caye: Proper Storage for All Jet Skis

Off to Explore the Reef

Off to Explore the Reef

Turnaround Point: Tobacco Caye Local Restaurant Building Piles of Conch

Turnaround Point: Tobacco Caye Local Restaurant Building Piles of Conch

Bluefield Range

The Bluefield Range is kind of sacred ground for us. It started in 1995 when a semi-sober Norwegian former merchant marine cook named Finn hailed us as “Bayfield Bayfield” (our boat type back then). It was rumored he knew almost every boat made. How he recognized our boat from over a mile out is/was impressive. He said, “I know what guide you’re using and don’t come in that way.” We didn’t listen and he was right.

Over the years we visited Finn when we chartered in Belize and he always remembered “Long-Legged Deb” and always had his log book open to our page when we came ashore. He cooked some fabulous meals for us over the years, and sometimes we had marginal raw materials. He was hard on our booze supplies but we took it in stride as we heard various chapters of his life story, some with a bit of crying and leaning on long-legged Deb’s shoulder.

Bluefield Range As It Was Then

Bluefield Range As It Was Then

All That's Left

All That’s Left

Finn drowned in the Bluefield Range lagoon. Many of us guess that it was alcohol related but no one was there when it happened. Ricardo, the owner, tried bringing the resort back to life on at least one occasion but the shots above show the current state of the famous Bluefield Range Resort. Here’s a link from Boat U.S. with a story titled, Finn’s World, Where Dogs Eat Dinghies and People Eat Well, that will bring a tear to your eye.

Rendezvous Cay

We took Neytiri out to Rendezvous, another famous stop in Belize … advertised as a perfect South Pacific island with great snorkeling. We made many trips to that island and always had it all to ourselves. Our favorite little island is buried somewhere under this private cruise ship leased commercial paradise now and it costs from $10 to $20 U.S. per person to go there now if the cruise ships aren’t in town. We talked the guy down to zero but the snorkeling was a fraction of what we remember.

Deb on Rendezvous

Deb on Rendezvous

Rendezvous Caye Turned into Cruise Ship Park

Rendezvous Caye Turned into Cruise Ship Park

Wild Man Snorkeler

Wild Man Snorkeler

 

On To Belize

December 20, 2013 Posted by Deb

We finally grabbed a two-day window that promised no rain but no wind as well. The forecasts were right and we saw our first sun in weeks. It was an excellent trip motoring in flat calm over the speed bump and left to Belize. Our only regret was that we were motoring in one of the best sailing countries we have ever seen.

Small World Story Number 44

We started running into Rio Dulce immigration shuffle folks literally minutes after dropping our hook in Placencia. Peter from Rendezvous gave us a whirlwind tour of Placencia and we got the answers to the basic new arrival questions of “where to put the dinghy,” “where to put garbage,” “where to get laundry done,” and “where to get water, fuel, food.”

Mini Regatta as We Pull Into Placencia Belize

Mini Regatta as We Pull Into Placencia Belize

Peter introduced us to his new crew member, Phillipe, a French Canadian. Just a week before we had done a rare Skype call to an old friend (Richard) in St. Martin and he mentioned that a guy named Phillipe, who had crewed with him for a number of deliveries, was hanging out at Bruno’s in the Rio Dulce. We looked and never found him in the Rio but smacked right into him in Placencia. It’s great when that happens. The offshoot is that when Phillipe texted that he ran into us, Richard got him a gig on a delivery he’s doing to Tahiti.

Chicken-Loving Lunch Companion in Placencia

Chicken-Loving Lunch Companion

One of the Caribbean's Amazing Signs -- Ch

One of the Caribbean’s Amazing Signs

Christmas Light Parade First Night in Belize

Christmas Light Parade First Night in Belize

Placencia greeted us with three days of mostly rain and some of the coldest temperatures we’ve had excluding the mountains. The changes to Placencia in the 18 years we’ve been gone are total. We did not recognize a single building or landmark other than the beach. We also found only Diet Mountain Dew … damn.

San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, the far north of Belize, was a three-day sail, moving the boat from around 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. only because it’s reef country. The trades finally kicked in with sunshine interrupted by the odd 30-knot squall. The final day we had two reefs in the main and half a headsail, and we were doing eight knots in six and seven feet of water. Shades of the Bahamas and a bit nerve wracking. We did not perform as well as in the old days or on charter cats, getting ourselves in thin water far more often than we should have. But … there’s Mountain Dew everywhere here.

Neytiri Bobbing at Anchor just off San Pedro Town

Neytiri Bobbing at Anchor just off San Pedro Town

Old Favorite Bar on Ambergris Caye

Old Favorite Bar on Ambergris Caye

Company

We are turning Neytiri from a two-person boat into a six person boat for three rounds of company as well as dealing with the leftovers from months of rain. We have green stuff growing on the boom, green and black on the lines, rust on the stainless, fender marks on the hull, and the barnacles have started again. Merry Christmas.